This is an independent blog and is not affiliated with any particular church, group or conference. The term Bruderthaler refers to a specific ethnic or cultural Mennonite heritage, not to any particular organized group. All statements and opinions are solely those of the contributor(s). Blog comprises notebook fragments from various research projects and discussions. Dialogue, comment and notice of corrections are welcomed. Much of this content is related to papers and presentations that might be compiled at a future date, as such, this blog serves as a research archive rather than as a publication. 'tag

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Daily Bread

Van Meegeren and his (forgery) Christ in the Temple, (c) NY Times

Pietist Mennonite practices regarding the daily devotional are as intrinsic to the Russian Mennonite identity as is verenika – in fact, one is surprised to learn that there was a revival of Bible study and devotions in Gnadenfelde under the influence of Eduard Wüst – when had it ended?
    Personal study of the Bible and searching the Scriptures for oneself is an intrinsic aspect of the Anabaptist revolution – the first Adult Baptisms were performed only after intense study of the Scripture.  Schools were started, Bibles translated and preachers sent out to encourage other Christians and non-Christians to discover this direct personal access to Christ’s teachings for themselves.  Even more than pacifists or Adult Baptizers, the term Students of the Bible would most adequately describe the well-spring and radical vision of our Swiss, Flemish and Frisian predecessors.
    No story reveals this truth more strongly than the personal testimony of Menno Simons – the teacher whose leadership helped to preserve and re-organize the early Anabaptist church antecedents of our various conferences and denominations today.

    Testimony of Menno Simons
    Move on to the Family Altar 

Menno Simons

    While daily devotionals were printed and handed-down in the German language – often from the ethnic printing houses of Elkhart and Cincinnati, most contemporary evangelical Mennonites will hearken back to childhoods spent listening to parents and grandparents reading aloud, always before breakfast, from the Radio Bible Class’ Our Daily Bread – a simple publication sent out every couple months to the radio ministry’s supporters across North America.  The format was simple – a recommended Scripture reading of a few verses, a catchy title – always read with the confidence of conviction, a couple of supporting Scripture verses and then a short essay or devotional containing a simple lesson with a straight forward point for further thought, a catchy line of poetry at the end to seal the deal.
    Admittedly, the lessons were sometimes difficult to get through – our stomachs would feel like they were ready to explode.  Thankfully, Grandma was smarter than others and would usually not place breakfast on the table until after Grandpa had finished the grace. 
    After my grandfather died, it was an amazing gift to find a couple of home recordings of him reading Our Daily Bread lessons with their related scriptures.  The tapes were old and had been made for his mother, my great-grandmother, in Dallas, Oregon.  Part of taking care of her in her old age was to read the devotionals to her via tape.  These are a family treasure beyond compare.
   Interestingly, my father does not share my appreciation of these devotions or the tapes.  A modern Anglo-American Evangelical, he found the daily ritual of Our Daily Bread to be cold, empty and forced – a practice he was glad to be rid of.  At the same time, I am not sure what he does to be fed – I have very little spiritual bind to his faith – I never really feel as though I had participated in it.  Thankfully, my mom was a bit more pragmatic – and adaptive.  While we did not do morning devotions at the table, she would have us sit down for a quiet time and listen to Bible lessons over the radio.

Courtesy KGLE Radio, Glendive, MT
    In communities such as Lustre, where  Saturday cartoons were mostly unavailable, we spent our mornings listening the Saturday line-up of KGLE AM Christian Radio – Glendive (still on the air and on the Net).  Before Focus on the Family, there was Ranger Bill, Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie, Children’s Story Hour with Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue and the radio dramas of Unshackled, produced by Chicago’s Pacific Garden Mission.
    Many of us developed our own personal devotional habits and lifestyle with our first Keys for Kids, a children’s devotional published by Children’s Bible Hour Ministries and very similar to Our Daily Bread but just for kids – and simple enough that we could read it for ourselves.
    Reflecting on today’s divide between the secular sciences and spiritual culture, we saw no dichotomy between our Ranger Rick Magazines and our Keys for Kids – together they were our link to understanding the world beyond ourselves.
    In many ways, we had progressed only slightly as an ethnic literary culture.  Our grandparents learned by to read and their German by reading the Bible aloud before breakfast and before bed.  We were doing the same – only in English and with the help of Christian radio personalities and materials.  Somewhat backwards-looking – I have always had a higher tolerance and appreciation for radio than for television due to this experience.  (Growing up with Paul Harvey broadcast every day at noon did not hurt either.)
   For Mennonites, this early training and dependency on devotional literature for reading material and intellectual understanding, placed us far ahead of our mainstream Evangelical peers both in scriptural understanding and in devotional maturity.  One of the most heinous tasks for many of us was to go backwards in time to do the basic AWANA Bible study projects – in 5th grade.  We were already leading our own small groups and devouring Chuck Swindoll, Matthew Henry, J. Vernon McGhee, C. S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest.  The pain of an AWANA study, appropriate for new believers in high school, was like putting training wheels back on your bike or hitting a baseball off the tee.  (Just a quick note to today’s AWANA parents – if your kids are going through their study books two or three times and earning the big brass trophies – they aren’t growing.  Your kids aren’t spiritual brainiacs – they are bored – and spiritual boredom can be a dangerous thing.  Feed them.)
Old Friend - New Formats
    Recently, my cousin commented on my Facebook that his wife thought he was sounding more and more like my grandfather reading the Our Daily Bread“only I haven’t started saying ‘Ja … well, ok then’ yet.”
    Like my cousin, I continue to read Our Daily Bread when available.  It is light and informative – like a muffin with your breakfast.  Nor do I read it solely for the spiritual value – I openly admit that I also feel a strong connection to my grandparents and my great-grandparents when I read it – and I remember listening on my own to Bible lessons broadcast on KGLE.  It is my way of being nourished but also of belonging – connecting with my faith heritage, my family and the church family in which I grew up.  Sometimes, tradition and a shared ritual can be a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Mennonite Culture

606 agriculture AIMM Alcohol Alt-Oldenburger Amish Amish Prayer Amish voyeurism Anniversary of Russian Mennonites Architecture Archives Athletes Baptism Bess und Bettag Bible Study Bluffton College BMC Bob Jones University Bruderthaler Burial Customs Camp Funston Canadian Government Catherine the Great CCC Chaco Civil Rights Colonist Horse Congo Inland Mission Conscientious Objectors Consensus Cultural Criticism Death decals Definitions Dialogue diaspora Discipline Discrimination Divorce Drama Drugs Easter Emergent Church Movement ethnic violence Ethnicity Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Evangelical Mennonites Evangelicals exile Famine Fastpa folk art Footwashing Frente Menonita Front for the Defense of the Mennonite Colonies Furor mennoniticus Gardens gay Gay Marriage Gelassenheit Gemeinshaft Gender Studies General Conference German German Bible Gnadenfelde Goshen School Grace School grief Halodomar hate crimes Heirloom Seeds HMS Titanic Holocaust Holy Kiss Horses Hymns Identity Formation identity politics Immigration Immigration Song Inquisition Inter-faith Mennonites Jewish Diaspora Kairos Kleine Gemeinde Krimmer Mennonites Language LGBT Lustre Synthesis Lutheran and Mennonite Relations Magistracy Marriage Martyrs' Mirror MC-USA MCC Kits Mennonite Brethren Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Mennonite Decals Mennonite Diaspora Mennonite farming innovations Mennonite Flag Mennonite Heritage Plants Mennonite Horse Mennonite Identity Mennonite Literature Mennonite Refugees Mennonite Women Missions Molotschna Cattle Breed Movies Music Non-resistance Pacifism photography Pietism Plautdietsch Flag Plautdietsche Poetry Politics Postmodernism quilts Radio refugees Rites Roman Catholic and Mennonite Relations Roman Catholicism Russian Mennonite Flag Russian Mennonites Russian Orthodox Church secularism Shunning Southern Baptists Taxation Television Ten Thousand Villages Terms Viki-leaks Water Dowsing Wenger Mennonites Women's Studies World War 2 World War I


A. F. Wiens (1) A. H. Leahman (1) A. J. Wall (1) Abraham Gerber (1) Abram Groening (1) Adam Carroll (2) AIMM (3) Albert Wall (7) Allison Mack (1) Anne-Marie Goertzen Wall (1) Annie C. Funk (1) Aron Wall (1) B. F. Hamilton (1) Benjamin Mubenga (1) Benjamin Sprunger (1) Bernhard Dueck Kornelssen (1) Berry Friesen (1) Bitter Poets (3) Bob Jones University (2) Brandon Beachy (1) Brendan Fehr (1) Bruce Hiebert (1) C. Henry Niebuhr (1) C. R. Voth (1) Calvin Redekop (3) Carolyn Fauth (3) CBC News (1) Charles King (1) Chris Goertzen (1) Connie Mack (1) Corrie ten Boom (1) Dale Suderman (2) Daniel Friesen (1) Danny Klassen (1) David Classen (1) Dennis Wideman (1) Diane Driedger (3) Dick Lehman (1) Donald Kraybill (1) Donald Plett (1) Dora Dueck (1) Dustin Penner (1) Dwaine and Nancy Wall (1) Edna Ruth Byler (1) Eduard Wust (1) Elliott Tapaha (1) Elvina Martens (1) Eric Fehr (1) Esther K. Augsburger (1) Ethel Wall (1) Frente Menonita (1) Fritz and Alice Wall Unger (1) Gbowee (1) Georg Hansen (1) George P. Schultz (3) George S. Rempel (1) George Schultz (1) Gordon C. Eby (1) Goshen College (4) Gus Stoews (1) H. C. Wenger (1) H. F. Epp (1) Harold S. Bender (1) Heidi Wall Burns (2) Helen Wells Quintela (1) Henry Epp (1) Henry Toews (1) Ian Buruna (1) Isaac Peters (6) J. C. Wall (3) J. T. Neufeld (2) Jakob Stucky (1) James Duerksen (1) James Reimer (1) Jason Behr (1) Jeff Wall (1) Jim Kuebelbeck (1) Joetta Schlabach (2) Johann F. Kroeker (1) John Howard Yoder (1) John Jacob Wall (1) John R. Dick (1) John Rempel (1) John Roth (1) Jonathan Groff (1) Jonathan Toews (2) Jordi Ruiz Cirera (1) Kathleen Norris (4) Kelly Hofer (3) Kevin Goertzen (1) Keystone Pipeline (3) Leymah Gbowee (1) Linda May Shirley (1) Lionel Shriver (1) Lorraine Kathleen Fehr (2) Margarita Teichroeb (1) Marlys Wiens (2) Martin Fast (1) Matt Groening (2) Melvin D. Epp (1) Menno Simons (3) Micah Rauch (1) Michael Funk (1) Moody Bible Institute (2) Nancy Wall (4) Norma Jost Voth (1) O. J. Wall (2) Orlando J. Wall (3) Patrick Friesen (4) Peter Wall (1) Philip Landis (1) Phillip Jakob Spener (1) Rachael Traeholt (2) Randy Smart (3) Rhoda Janzen (1) Rob Nicholson (2) Robin Martins (1) Robyn Regehr (1) Roger Williams (1) Rosella Toews (1) Ruth Lederach (1) Sam Mullet (3) Sam Schmidt (1) Scot McKnight (1) Stacey Loewen (2) Stanley Hauerwas (2) Steven Wall (6) Susan Mark Landis (1) Taylor Kinney (1) Tom Airey (2) Victor Toews (4)